Kindness vs. Judgement (Pay it Forward vs. Collective Negativity)

I have felt compelled to blog about something that’s been bothering me, in the hopes that it  might resonate with even one other person. I’m sure it will. There was recently a story about an NYPD Police Officer who used his own money to buy boots for a homeless man he encountered on his beat on a bitterly cold winter night. You may have seen/read it. Like so many others, I was touched at the kindness and compassion of the human heart and it renewed my hope in humanity once again. 🙂 Here  is the story, in case you somehow missed it.Helping the Homeless So that’s all well and good, and ties in nicely with the spirit of Christmas and the general “Good Will toward Men” sentiment. Great!

A couple of days later, there was a follow-up story which let people know that the homeless man was once again without the socks and boots that the cop so generously had given him. 

“The $100 pair of boots that Officer DePrimo had bought for him at a Skechers store on Nov. 14 were nowhere to be seen. “Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” Mr. Hillman said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. “I could lose my life.”

Mr. Hillman, 54, was by turns aggrieved, grateful and taken aback by all the attention that had come his way — even as he struggled to figure out what to do about it. “I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?” he said. “This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.” He did not recall the photo being taken but remembered well the gift from Officer DePrimo. “I appreciate what the officer did, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I wish there were more people like him in the world.”

At another point he said: “I want to thank everyone that got onto this thing. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me. And to the officer, first and foremost.” ~ New York Times, 12/03/2012

So I looked at the comments section (probably a mistake, but force of habit). I was appalled at how many people were condemning Mr. Hillman for getting rid of the boots he had been given and laughing at the cop for being ‘naive’. All I could think of was the vast difference in people cheering compassion and then turning that act of generosity into judgement against both the giver and the person who had received it.

No, it doesn’t take away from the cop’s good intentions. But I wanted to ask each and every person commenting with things like “You know he sold them for money for drugs or booze” or “The cop should have known he would just sell them. Why waste that kind of money?” etc. etc. – I wanted to ask them, “How do YOU know and who are YOU to judge?!”

None of us have walked in Mr. Hillman’s boots. We don’t know his story, we don’t know what demons he battles. And in the end, you know what? It doesn’t matter, because when you take it upon yourself to point fingers and judge someone else, just remember there are three fingers pointing back at YOU.

Now…the main reason I’m writing this is because it’s damned cold outside tonight. Twenty-seven degrees is the current temp and it’s not done dropping yet. Do any of you know of a homeless person who could use a blanket? How about thermal packs for their hands/feet? How about the notion of “Pay it Forward”?

 If we ALL just helped three people this winter, REALLY helped them, and then those three people help three others…it’s the power of 1 + 1 into infinity. We could really change the world and make a difference in so many lives. Please consider doing just ONE random act of kindness for someone who desperately needs it this season (or every day, if you’re of a mind to!). You see…kindness is a much better way to make the world a better place than passing judgement on others. Kindness battles the collective negativity of judgement. The world is cold and dark enough as it is. How about we all make it just a little bit brighter? 🙂

About dragonkatet

Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.
This entry was posted in Food For Thought, Holidays, Human Rights, Inspiration, Life, Philosophical Ponderings. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Kindness vs. Judgement (Pay it Forward vs. Collective Negativity)

  1. MisBehaved Woman says:

    Fantastic post!!!!
    I skimmed comments under some articles about the officer and the shoes, too and was horrified at what I read…so much hatred, so much judgment…ugh! And what the man said about those shoes likely costing him his life is not far from the truth; people die on the streets for far lesser things/reasons.
    Paying it forward – wish more people would. Hubby & I cook up bbq and goodies as often as we can and go to the local encampment by the interstate and serve anyone who wants food for however long it lasts. It is always a great time and we’ve met the most incredible people…always feels like we get more than we’re giving.

    • dragonkatet says:

      🙂 Thanks for reading and for the kind comment! Yes, I’m sure he was telling the truth about how dangerous it would be for him to have the shoes and be out on the street. Not all homeless people are alcoholics, drug addicts or mentally ill. What people don’t seem to realize is that there are a LOT of children who are part of a homeless family, but for some reason, the media would rather report on the dangerous, more unsavory characters (and yes, there are a lot of them out there). Because God forbid they should report the truth about how bad homelessness has become in this country. It makes me so angry.

      As for Pay it Forward, I, and many of my friends/family believe in it whole-heartedly. We are here on this planet to help people! 🙂 We try to get together every winter and pass out thermal hand/feet packs to the homeless we can find in the city. We know most of the spots where they hang out, but there are always those who hide, untrusting of everyone. It seems like we always run out of thermal packs before we run out of people to give them to. 😦 Big kudos to you and your hubby for taking the time to care!! Here’s hoping that the kindness spreads!

  2. MisBehaved Woman says:

    I hadn’t fully considered it but you are right in that media only wants to talk about the dangers of homeless folk and rarely address the fact that there are so many families living on the streets. I read the other day where some city was trying to pass a ‘resolution’ banning homeless people from camping around city hall at night because their presence was disturbing to the daytime downtown folks. Made my blood boil….BAN PEOPLE?? Don’t look for a solution, don’t offer help…just make people illegal and viola! – problem solved. >.< And in that whole 'solution' I'd bet not a single person ever considered the idea they might be banning children…and from what? Being? Being alive? Living in their own town?

    I think what you guys do every winter is awesome! The warmers must be a real treat for everyone and I can easily see where you'd always run out of them. I don't suppose there's any chance some business would be kind enough to donate a couple boxes, is there? Sometimes our local business owners surprise me with what they'll hand over…the thrift shops here are wonderful about letting me snag a stack of blankets for $1 if they know we're handing them out and the small markets will give away dented canned goods and whatnot sometimes when we ask. We barely cover our own butts and it irritates me to never have enough supplies and funds to use!

    We head out to help the people around the interstate because so many have told us that this (NM in general but particularly down here at the border) is a really harsh place to pass through. No trees, no shelters, no water, etc. The people who stay around the city have more help and there's even a designated city lot for camping near the soup kitchen. Last time we were out at the off-ramp, a group of guys showed us where their whole…network?….of friends stashed supplies for each other so now if no one is *home* when we visit, we can leave dog food and water in the stash spot and know the next traveler will get it. I wonder if most people even realize how much the homeless people actually do to look out for and care for one another..? Media always shows scattered clips and the people seem disconnected from one another and from my experience, there is more generosity and caring among the homeless than there is in some of the nicer burban neighborhoods I've lived in!

  3. lengesinski says:

    A Reality Check-For All of Us.
    Those That are in a Position to do Something, However Small is Still Something being Done.
    Plenty of Homeless that are actually Just Looking for a Bite, I’ll offer Somebody Out in Need Food and Drink as Opposed to Giving Money.

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks, Len. I agree with you about the food and drink over money thing. I do donate to organizations here in town who help the homeless, and feel like my money is perhaps better spent there, but you are so right that even if it’s just a little bit of help, or helping one other person, it matters a whole lot to that person! 🙂

  4. Luke Prater says:

    very interesting…. tho’ I do think the cop could have bought him some much cheaper-end boots. Likely a homeless man would get in trouble with street thieves with brand new sketchers, or maybe sell them… but I agree the negativity is counterproductive. Thank you for posting this. After I got hit by the death of the homeless man in my town recently, I started volunteering in the soup kitchen… it’s such a positive experience.

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks, Luke. You know, it was actually your piece that decided me to go ahead and blog about this. I know that volunteering can be so rewarding! A lot of the homeless I have met just want to be acknowledged – many are eager to share their stories and prove that they’re still human beings, still deserving of love. There are those who have become completely anti-social and want nothing to do with anyone, but I like to think they are in the minority. You’re probably right about the cop buying Mr. Hillman some cheaper shoes, but I’m sure he wasn’t considering the danger the more expensive ones could cause him. It’s a shame that that even has to be a consideration for such an act of kindness.

  5. Jo Bryant says:

    I had no idea about the comments and what he did with the shoes. people can be so cynical and hard…it saddens me no end

    • dragonkatet says:

      I hear ya, Jo. It’s force of habit for me to automatically check the comments section – some kind of (morbid?) curiosity about what people think about what I’ve just read. I agree that people can be cynical and hard, although I still think most people are inherently good. 🙂

  6. I am right now still shocked with all these kids killed in Sandy Hook Elementary school and your post just makes me even more emotional. It’s in human nature, unfortunately, to always find the negative side on something beautiful and positive. When all we could do is just be thankful for people like the police officer, because there aren’t many.
    I am helping someone close to me right now, as much as I can, and I wish I had the possibility to help all these homeless people I see on the streets of Athens. Unfortunately, again, the people that can afford to do that prefer to spend money on fancy celebrations and holidays!
    I’ve shared your post on Facebook, I hope that’s ok with you. I’m not sure how many of my FB friends read my posts, but … as one of your videos here says, the difference starts with one …

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks, Blaga. Like you, I’ve been stunned at what happened in CT and struggling to understand “why” someone would/could do such a horrible thing. I think those of us with compassion search to find a reason for some of the great injustices of the world. I truly believe that we were put on this planet to help people, and when one puts aside his/her Ego and chooses to help others, instead of “Self”, compassion and kindness become a lot easier. Like you, I wish that I could help all those who are hurting and in need of it in this world, but I know that’s not possible, so I remember the starfish story to try and keep everything in perspective – you may not be able to save/help them all, but for every one you do help, you will have made a world of difference to *that* person. 🙂 Thanks for sharing my post – the more people we can reach with Pay it Forward, the more light we can spread this season!

  7. Bodhirose says:

    Hearing about the negative comments made and judgments dispensed is very sad. I’ve learned so many times that you just can never truly know what someone else is going through. You’re so right…not all homeless are alcoholics, drug addicts or mentally ill. Mr. Hillman seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders. He could have been beaten or even killed for that pair of boots…sad to say. He did not ask for his experience to be shared around the world…but around it went and it seems the negativity outweighed the positive. That’s not a good reflection on humanity. I love what you and your family do to help, Corina…very compassionate of you.

    You learned a valuable lesson too…don’t read the comments section!

    Happy Holidays to you, my friend. Light and love…Gayle xoxo

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks, Gayle! 🙂 You know, you are so right – I need to quit reading the comments sections, because more often than not, they are full of hate, bigotry, racism, and all manner of undesirable qualities. There are a few people who leave nice and thoughtful comments, but it seems they are outweighed by the number of negative nellies.

      ‘ve been slacking on my online posts and reading, which I’m hoping to catch up on soon. Hope your New year has started out grand. 🙂 Blessings to you and yours! xo

  8. Jamie Dedes says:

    “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something … and what I can do, by the grace of God I will do.”

    I followed stoy this too and with growing irritation.

    Corina, also stopped by to wish you the best in the holiday season and throughout 2013 (can you believe it). Thank you for all your fun, wonderful, and so often uplifting posts. Keep your ideals. They are real.

    Many blessings,

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks so much, Jamie. 🙂 I need the reminder sometimes that even though they *are* ideals, there are other people who live them, too. I’ve been behind in my online posting and reading but hope to catch up soon! Be blessed yourself, and find a smile today!

  9. Bodhirose says:

    Corina, stopped by again today to wish you a Happy New Year, my friend. May your blessings be those of peace and prosperity of spirit. You are a wonderful inspiration and positive light…so fortunate to know you.

  10. Jo Bryant says:

    Happy New Year Corina. How are the new babies doing ? Ummmmm…check this out and click on the link…scroll down. YOU [not surprising] are in my top 5 commentators.
    Keep safe my friend and have fun.

    • dragonkatet says:

      Happy New Year, Jo! 😀 I’m honored to be in your top 5! You have soooo many visitors that it makes me tingly to know I ranked up there with Gilly, Hook and the Cap’n. Woot! I haven’t even looked at my 2012 in review yet…not sure if I will or not.

  11. eebrinker says:

    is an interesting moral dilema …….. should the police officer have bought less expensive boots? been aware that lower-end shoes would serve better? should Hillman have grown a backbone at this late date? how could the police officer know if a backbone was possilbe, without giving Hillman the chance? or are the realities too stark?

    the fact that if you don’t have a ‘fort’ to ‘guard’ your ‘stuff’ (reference our good friend George) — then having anything anyone else might want is a big step into a dangerous direction.

    as for the “piling on” when a group senses someone is weak …….. that’s immature behavior, right? so we’re looking at a case those trying to be “better” than the status quo and those who remain in the realms of never-never-land (reference Hook) are quick to revel in the reenforcement of their own rights to remain immature.

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